Juggling life through a bi-polar lens. Sometimes up, sometimes down. Mostly trying to tread water in the middle. Creating a likeness to a normal life. Whatever "normal" is...

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

ABC Wednesday....

F is for feathers............

...Like the ones on this European Eagle Owl.

His name is Sid.

A close up of Sid's feathers..........and one that he decided he didn't need any more:Some people can paint birds onto discarded feathers....they must have buckets of patience!

This one is an inch high. We bought it in Edinburgh:
These two were gifts from Nicaragua:

(This one is my favourite. I like the look on his face.)

Here are a few more feathers, these ones found in my garden.......
first, from a wee goldfinch (see the gold?)
this one is from a sparrowhawk. Those are white lines, on the top edge....
Lastly, here is an unusual Christmas decoration: a wreath made of feathers!

The sales assistant was trying to encourage purchases by telling people it would also make a great Easter Centrepiece. Hmm... not sure! But it's lovely and soft and fluffy.

And speaking of Fluffy, here's one of my cat, "Fluffy"! She's a fantastic friend!
You can see more of Sid The Owl and his friends on this video of my Falconry Experience Day, where I met him:


I bet there are lots of feathers in this week's ABC Wednesday! If you'd like to check out the other participants, or find out how to join in, please visit Mrs Nesbitt's blog!


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

ABC Wednesday.... E is for......

....Evidence of the English Civil War.........

I moved to Colchester in 2003 and am still learning about the history of this town, rumoured to be England's "oldest recorded town".

The English Civil War ran from 1642 to 1649. Colchester was under siege in 1648. The siege, lasting 76 days, was one of the most important events of the war. Evidence of some of the violence that took place is still easily found around the town. Yesterday I went out and photographed two examples....

Bit of background info. re. the siege: A Royalist army, gathered from Kent, Hertfordshire and Essex occupied colchester. They were supporting King Charles I against Parliament. Once inside the town walls, they were surrounded by the Parliamentarian army, commanded by Lord Fairfax.

The siege lasted through a very cold and wet summer, ending on August 28th 1648. By this time, the residents of the town were so desperate for food that they had begun to eat rats.

(1)The Old Siege House, East Bridge, East Street.
[above] The Old Siege House showing East Bridge in the background (the car is about to drive over it). It still bears the marks of a night-long battle from 1648.

The Old Siege House, taken from the bridge

This Tudor building overlooks a bridge across the River Colne. It was originally part of a mill. The mill was occupied by members of the Parliamentarian army on July 5th 1648. This cut off the bridge, which was used as a route into town by Royalist raiding parties searching for food. It also posed a threat to the south of the town, a place still called The Hythe, which was a port. The Royalists, therefore, decided they could not allow this occupation to take hold.

That night, 500 foot-soldiers and 200 horsemen from the Royalist army charged down East Hill. They were led by Sir George Lisle and Sir Charles Lucas.

When they reached the bridge, they were met by Parliamentarian musketeers. Fighting broke out and many of the musketeers were killed. The fighting went on through the night. At one point, Lucas's cavalry chased Parliamentarian troops up the hill away from the town, only to be met by reinforcements who had been coming to stop the Royalists. This group formed a fierce counter-attack and the Royalists were forced back into the town. They had killed lots of men and taken lots of prisoners, but failed to take any food from the mill or port.

The building now called The Old Siege House still shows holes from some of the musket balls from these fights:

[above] Some of the holes made by the musket balls are highlighted with red metal rings around them. I put my hand next to this one to show how big they are.

[above] The beams under the "overhang" at the front of the building- more holes left by musket balls.

Spot the holes? This [above] is at the side of the building, facing the river.

The wood carving, beams and brickwork are all mid 16th century.

This was just one night of the long siege of the town. If you'd like to find out more about the Civil War, here's a link. Or here's a link to a page about the Colchester siege.

(2) The Monument, Castle Park

What happened in Colchester after the siege?

The Royalists surrendered to the Parliamentarians. The townspeople, who had suffered at the hands of both armies, were fined £14,000 (about £2 million in today's terms). Most of the town had been burned. The town walls were ordered to be pulled down, so that nobody would be able to fortify the town ever again. Those remaining Royalist soldiers who were unable to purchase their freedom were herded out of the town, stripped, beaten and left to starve. Many were sent abroad as slaves to the West Indies.

Remember Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle? The leaders of the fight at East Street? Here is a monument to them, in the grounds of Colchester Castle, where they were later held prisoner, before being executed:

The obelisk marks the spot where they were executed:

I hope you've found this brief look at some of this town's history interesting.

Last, but not least, this wee fella was keeping watch over the monument, so I threw him a nut:

Hard to believe such things took place here, when it was so peaceful walking about with my camera, feeding the squirrels. Perhaps because of the cold and the clear sky, it was so quiet.......


For links to everyone else doing the ABC Wednesday, & instructions on how to take part, visit Mrs Nesbitt's site.


Monday, 18 February 2008


I took these at 8am today.
This is the back garden from the back of the house.
It isn't snow: that's frost!

I had put out some food for the birds, as well as getting the ice out of their birdbaths and re-filling, with tepid water. You can still see the ice that I removed from the birdbath yesterday and the day before- it's been too cold for it to melt!This is one of a lot of cheeky chappies we get.
We have about 9 blackbirds visiting us regularly, though I've counted 11 in the tree at the same time. This is unusual as they're a territorial bird most of the time. I think they're putting up with each other in the cold, as they know there is a regular good source of food nearby. Most of them are male, I've only ever seen two females at the same time.Here you can see our Christmas Tree! Still in its pot, I water it regularly but leave it here on the decking. My plan is to put it in a big terrocotta pot when it's warmer. I'd love to plant it out but the garden isn't really big enough for a Norway Spruce!The spruce looks like it's covered in snow. I think it's whispering to itself, "Wow! I'm a real Christmas tree at last! At last!"

Hmmm... I guess I should have put that washing line away.... hey ho!

I don't mind it being cold, so long as the sky is bright and blue. I hope it warms up for the wee birdees soon though.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Maybe I should read it....

OK, here's another one. This time you can find out what book you are. I like the description I ended up with, but I've never read this book.......maybe I should, now.

You're Prufrock and Other Observations!

by T.S. Eliot

Though you are very short and often overshadowed, your voice is poetic and lyrical. Dark and brooding, you see the world as a hopeless effort of people trying to impress other people. Though you make reference to almost everything, you've really heard enough about Michelangelo. You measure out your life with coffee spoons.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

A wee bit of fun!

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Her Most Serene Highness Lady Helena the Deipnosophist of Buzzing St Helens
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

ABC Wednesday.... D is for Dressing Gowns!

D is for Dressing Gowns ..........

Dressing Gowns (or, in the USA, I believe, 'robes',) are a little bit of affordable luxury. In fact, judging by the ones I've manhandled in department stores, the cheaper they are, the fluffier. Don't bother with expensive woolly ones. They just go bobbly anyway. They're also too heavy for suitcases. And far too posh to relax properly in, especially around morning cups of caffeine.

The one above was given to me one Christmas. After many washes, it's still as soft as.... as soft as.... OK. Let me explain something here. I have my own measure for softness. Not silk or feathers or snow. No. Something reaches the pinnacle of softness only if it reminds me of my cat's tummy....
"Figs".... named after "Figaro" in Pinnochio... beatifully innocent (so she said) of the crime of scratching this wallpaper.... Her fur was thick and soft, and she was love and friendship, and cheekiness and humour, on legs. Nearly 3 years now, and I still miss her. Snuggling down in my soft fluffy dressing gown, I think of her, her soft, warm, thick silk, and try not to consider that I'll never hold that purry warmth again.

'Ahhhh....' I sigh to my patient partner, as I stroke another fur collar/ cushion cover/ teddy bear, as we wander through Debenhams. 'Soft as Figgy's tummy' I say. He smiles, rolls his eyes to the ceiling. He knew I was going to say that.
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Each morning I get up to put out food for the birds. I make a mixture of sultanas, oats, fat and apple. -Mix it all up small in the food processor. I've tried putting it out the night before, but if it rains in the night, or if there's a heavy frost (like lately), it turns into a mushy porridge. The birds eat most of it still, but it makes a mess of the bird tables. So... early morning rises it is, come rain or snow...

-This one was taken about a year ago. Hard to believe. No snow this year.... Anyway, here I am, 6am., walking back towards the door after putting out the birds' breakfast...... This is my other Dressing Gown. I bought it from a discount store called TK Maxx. It has Elizabeth Emmanuel embroidered onto the front lapel in gold. Hmmm.... quite a posh designer, that. She was one of the ones who designed the wedding dress for Princess Diana. I have to report though, that this Dressing Gown, whatever its credentials, doesn't pass the Figgy's Tummy Test. It does have a hood, though. And has towelling inside. So, good for rushed showers and baths, cool lazy evenings eating straight out of the fridge, and feeding birds in the snow.


For links to everyone else doing the ABC Wednesday, & instructions on how to take part, visit Mrs Nesbitt's site.


Wednesday, 6 February 2008

ABC Wednesday.... C is for CALF!

Met these last year, in Yorkshire......

The calf on the right is female and has the typical doe eyes of children's picture-books. I was stunned to see the difference in appearance between her and the young male. Completely different face!

Keep close, mum, who's this? What's that thing she keeps pointing at me?

'S'ok, son, it's only a camera thingy. Go on: give her a close-up.

He was quite skittish, and after this ran behind her and hid, peering out from under her legs.


In this country, male calves are shot shortly after birth. There is no market (we're told) for the meat of male cattle and veal is considered cruel (looking at the crates typically used, this is true). So it doesn't make economic sense for the farmer to keep them.

There is a farm in the Channel Islands, however, that is trying to change this. It rears its male calves, then sells them for meat. In a blind taste-test amongst farmers and wholesalers, all listed this beef as the best, despite rejecting the idea of it outright beforehand. Maybe young male calves will have time to enjoy a bit of life in future....

THIS one is safe. This is a living museum farm, demonstrating traditional farming methods. It was set up to show that farming can be free range, organic, and wildlife & environment friendly.

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For links to other bloggers taking part in ABC Wednesday, & instructions on how to join in, visit Mrs Nesbitt's Place!

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